People often confuse PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disease) with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome), but these are two different conditions. Both cause hormone imbalances and affect the ovaries, but they have different symptoms and need different treatments.
A lot of women and girls who menstruate suffer from PCOD or PCOS. However, because of myths and false information, many don’t understand the difference between the two.
Let’s discuss their causes, treatments, and other characteristics to clarify them.
In Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) cases, hormonal imbalance and genetic tendencies can be contributing factors. While during a regular menstrual cycle, the ovaries will usually release one mature egg at a time, ready to be fertilised.
Read more: PCOD – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
In PCOD, however, the ovaries may release immature eggs or only partially-developed ones, leading to the formation of cysts–tiny sacs filled with liquid.
PCOD can cause the ovaries to swell and become enlarged. In addition, it can lead to the ovaries releasing an excessive amount of androgens (male hormones). These hormones can result in symptoms such as abdominal weight gain, irregular periods, and even infertility in some extreme cases.
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for PCOD. However, making lifestyle modifications with the help of medical professionals (such as a gynaecologist, endocrinologist, and dietician) can help manage it.
Exercise and a balanced diet low in sugar and carbohydrates and high in protein and fibre can effectively control PCOD and reduce weight gain. Even a 5% decrease in weight can significantly enhance the treatment of PCOD.
In order to balance the hormones, individuals may sometimes be prescribed medication. However, second-line therapy, such as laparoscopic surgery, ovarian drilling, and aromatase inhibitors, is not very common. In addition, doctors can use skin treatments for specific symptoms of PCOD, such as acne and hair loss.
Most people can expect an uncomplicated pregnancy by minimal assistance that is needed to facilitate conception. However, according to data collected on Indian women, approximately 20% of cases may require fertility drugs or other fertility-enhancing treatments if they wish to become pregnant.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is associated with various symptoms, such as weight gain, infertility, acne, and irregular periods. PCOS can also put one at an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease, strokes, and diabetes.
Additionally, it may cause sleep apnea, a condition that disrupts one’s ability to breathe while asleep, resulting in interrupted sleep. Furthermore, due to the absence of ovulation, the lining of the uterus thickens each month, thus increasing one’s risk of endometrial cancer.
Treatment of PCOS often involves taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills) that contain estrogen (a female hormone) and progestin (a compound that mimics progesterone, another female hormone). To regulate the menstrual cycle and manage other symptoms.
In addition, doctors may prescribe additional medication to decrease the risk of endometrial cancer, diabetes and for acne and skin issues. To further aid the treatment process, one must also lose weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle.
In both conditions, overall weight gain or abdominal weight gain occurs. Apart from the distress due to the respective conditions and insecurities that come with hormonal imbalance, acne, weight gain, and difficulty conceiving, women endure a lot when suffering from these conditions. Therefore, focusing on yourself and taking measures to feel and look good can improve your way of tackling the disease.
In such a situation, download HealthifyMe, which helps you understand your body’s response to specific food items. A personalised consultation with the nutritionist helps you to know how small changes like incorporating frequent small meals.
Which includes good fats like seeds and nuts, the correct amount of protein and changing the cooking medium can play a crucial role in regulating your hormones.
In addition, mild stretches and yoga postures can help you get relief from such chronic conditions. The vast resource base at HealthifyMe is an enabler, and you can read up to know more about your condition.
The HealthifyMe Note
While PCOD and PCOS may sound similar, they are pretty different. With PCOD, the ovaries begin to secrete immature eggs, leading to hormonal imbalance, swollen ovaries, and other symptoms. However, PCOS results from endocrine problems that lead to the ovaries producing excessive amounts of androgen, which causes the eggs to develop cysts. Unlike PCOD, these cysts don’t get released but accumulate within the ovaries.
PCOD vs PCOS: Which is More Dangerous?
Having discussed the similarities between PCOS and PCOD, let us now explore the differences between the two. To start, PCOS is usually a more severe condition. With PCOD, a few lifestyle changes may be all that is necessary for management, and one may not need further medical attention.
On the other hand, PCOS is a disorder of the endocrine system, which means it has more severe effects and is usually treated by taking hormones from outside the body.
PCOD is much more prevalent than PCOS, with approximately one-third of all menstruating women across the globe having PCOD. For example, in a study conducted in Southern India and Maharashtra, about 22.5% of women were found to have PCOD, whereas only 9.13% had PCOS.
Finally, both PCOD and PCOS can lead to infertility; however, the extent of infertility differs. With PCOD, pregnancy is usually possible with extra precautions and minimal medical intervention.
PCOS, however, has more hormonal irregularities, so conception is more complicated. Clomiphene typically gets prescribed to increase fertility in people with PCOS, but this drug also often results in multiple births, which is undesirable.
PCOS vs PCOD: Highlighting the Differences
PCOS and PCOD are two different conditions caused by varying factors.
- PCOS is a metabolic-endocrine disorder, while PCOD results from hormonal imbalance due to factors such as overeating junk food, being obese or overweight, stress, and genetics.
- Symptoms of PCOS include acne, weight gain, and excessive hair growth, while PCOD symptoms are abdominal weight gain, painful periods, and male pattern hair loss.
- PCOD is more common than PCOS, affecting one-third of women worldwide, while PCOS affects 4%–20% of women of reproductive age.
- Women with PCOD can still ovulate and conceive successfully. But women with PCOS do not ovulate regularly due to a severe hormonal imbalance.
- PCOD is less severe than PCOS, but PCOS increases the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure.
The HealthifyMe Note
Although PCOD is not as severe as PCOS and does not have as much of an impact on fertility and metabolic health. It is still essential to get a timely diagnosis and maintain good health. Pregnancy can also be more difficult for women with PCOS due to hormonal irregularities. Therefore, recognising the differences between the two conditions is vital to ensure the best possible health outcomes. However, women with PCOS or PCOD can still conceive with medical help and guidance.
Healthy Tips to Manage the Conditions
- Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help manage symptoms of PCOD and PCOS by regulating hormones and the menstrual cycle. It is best to avoid processed, preserved, and carb-rich foods as they can increase inflammation and insulin resistance.
- To lose weight, if you have PCOS or PCOD, modify your diet to one that is low in calories but still nutritious. It will also help reduce insulin resistance, make your menstrual cycle more regular, and lower the risk of related problems.
- Weight management also requires finding an appropriate exercise routine. Avoid excessive physical activity as it can affect hormone levels. Instead, consider walking, yoga, swimming, and aerobics to reduce symptoms.
- Establishing a quality sleep pattern is essential to improving the outcomes of PCOD/PCOS treatments. Stick to a regular sleep schedule and avoid factors that can disrupt sleep, such as caffeine, daytime naps, smoking, bedtime snacks and screen time.
It is undeniable that both PCOS and PCOD carry a sense of social stigma and misinformation in Indian society. Although these are prevalent disorders, we often treat them as something shameful that we must hide, similar to other topics related to menstruation. Unfortunately, due to the lack of conversations on these issues, we lack the necessary education beyond just learning about their biology.
Mental health plays an essential role when one develops body image issues or when unable to conceive. For example, painful menstruation in young girls can be debilitating.
It impairs academic and professional performance. Even in a conjugal relationship, intimacy may be compromised. Talking to the coaches at HealthifyMe can help you overcome these insecurities and fears.
It is like having a confidante at every stage who enables you to get through the rough patches and move forward in life, albeit through supportive and healing touches.